The Day my Idolatry Caught up with Me

The physical pain I’d endured for years was growing in intensity and the duration of each episode was growing longer. The many rounds of various gall bladder tests and scans showed nothing unusual. I was weary of looking for answers. The pain was growing worse and I was ready to give up eating.

My favorite idol had become my enemy.

If you read my post Wednesday, you know that my “favorite idol” is food.

I’ve looked to food for:


I’ve spent a LOT of time thinking about food, craving food, anticipating—no—lusting for: lots of cheesy sauces, flaky pastries and hot-buttered bread, creamy desserts, and CHOCOLATE—always chocolate!

Hot doughnuts were to die for (almost literally).  

I could get downright demanding when it came to food. Food was (and still can be) a HUGE, out of whack priority in my life.

When God opened my eyes to my idolatry, I couldn’t believe it. 

Food, an idol? Yep, food.

Idol: What I crave, worship, and live for 

If I define an idol as anything that occupies the seat of my heart, food fits that description far too often. By “occupying the seat of my heart” I mean that it drives my desires; when those desires aren’t met, they become demands. My thoughts are preoccupied with my idol, my lifestyle caters to it, my money is spent (excessively) on it, I have lustful cravings for it, and I can get really cranky if I’m denied it.

I want it so much I’m willing to sin to get it. 

Don’t misunderstand what I’m saying, eating is not a sin. Being overweight isn’t a sin.

Gluttony IS sin. 

If food is your idol—you will always struggle with gluttony.

Listen to what Proverbs 23:2 says to people like me:

[box]”. . . and put a knife to your throat if you are given to gluttony.”[/box]

I remember reading this verse one day and thinking, “Oh, my. If I obeyed this literally, I’d have to slit my throat—because I AM a glutton!”

When God first opened my eyes to my idolatry of food, I was first blown away, then broken.  

When I was willing to consider that God wasn’t kidding, that He was seriously letting me know I was worshiping food . . . I started recognizing that food really did matter WAY too much to me.

I repented. I entered an extended period of fasting. During that fast it became very clear that food had grabbed my heart, or to be more accurate, I’d given my heart to food. While fasting, food became of little importance and God’s presence became all encompassing. After a few days, I really didn’t want to come down from the mountain-top experience of fasting . . . because I feared the battle with food would start again.

And it did.

This would be the first of many battles with my favorite idol. Through the years I would have seasons of victory, but far more years of defeat. And then one day I heard my doctor telling me this:

“You’ll never be able to eat gluten again.”

I was so ignorant, I didn’t even know what gluten was. I thought it might be related to glucose.

Sugar? Can he be saying I can’t eat sugar ever again? Surely not. 

I had lost a lot of weight, was struggling with eating anything at all because I was having so much stomach pain, so I’d gone in for an EGD (a stomach scope) to determine if I had ulcers. Thankfully when my gastroenterologist saw I had no ulcers, he took a biopsy from my small intestine.

The biopsy revealed that I have Celiac disease. 

When he explained that I’d never be able to eat anything with wheat, oats or barley ever again—I knew.

I knew that my food idolatry had finally caught up with me. The Father was going to make it a little easier for me to get my gluttony under control. He was removing my favorite foods from the shelf.

Bread, pasta, cakes, cookies, flaky pastries . . . I was watching them leave my life forever. I sat stunned as I listened to the doctor explain in great detail the repercussions of ignoring the seriousness of this disease.

Now please don’t misunderstand me. I am NOT saying that if you have Celiac, or a food allergy, diabetes, or any food related illness, I am NOT saying that God is disciplining you with that because you’re a glutton, or in sin, or anything like that. NOT AT ALL.

I’m just telling you that as I sat there receiving the news, I knew. 

I knew and wasn’t surprised at all. I actually see it as a gracious discipline from the Father.

I knew I’d been disobedient for a very long time when it came to dealing with this idol and now He was graciously dealing with it for me.

Monday I’ll share more of that story with you, but today, do you struggle with my favorite idol?

If you can relate at all to what I’m saying, let me encourage you to read this post: Two Kinds of Desires. Also “Getting to the Root of the Problem” might be helpful and this one that provides steps to take when you recognize the need to repent. If you missed this post on “Smashing Idols” you might want to check it out as well.

What is your “favorite” idol and how have you smashed it?


  • Jamie

    Yes, yes, yes! I’ve struggled with eating disorder since my teens. I was anorexic briefly in high school, then ballooned to my largest before graduating high school. I ate because I loved it. I ate because I was happy. I made plans around food. Schemed for it. I drowned my sorrows in sweets. Most of my life I’ve remained an average size and thought I had control over it. It’s just not true though. I think about food all the time and my emotions fluctuate based around food plans. Food idolatry sounds embarrassing, but it’s real, and it’s my biggest! Lately my body feels like I’ve hit a wall every morning and I’m just exhausted in ways I’ve never been. Yes, it’s motherhood. But it’s also food idolatry and anger that’s been unaddressed, eating at me, this time. Is there a regular online support group to join that addresses the issue of food idolatry? I know the 2 go hand in hand, but I’m less interested in an overeaters anonymous than I am regularly connecting with people who share my spiritual struggles. Thank you so much for sharing your story!

  • Francis

    I have been struggling with gluttony for a while. God spoke to me about it during a youth camp. I was getting better, but then the battles came stronger. I was overwhelmed with college, and work and family life. I ate a lot all throughout my financial crisis. I have reduced my eating but I am still very overweight. I still have cravings that I give into. I know there is hope. I just ask for a prayer. Please.

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Oh, my, Jamie, I am so very sorry. Somehow I missed seeing your comment last May!! So sorry. I don’t know if you’ll see this response, but just in case, let me say thank you for sharing your heart here. I think many readers will relate to your story.

    I don’t personally know of an online support group for food idolatry, but if you haven’t read it, I encourage you to check out:

    “Love to Eat, Hate to Eat” and “Idols of the Heart” by Elyse Fitzpatrick

    Both of these are helpful resources. Also, if you haven’t found an online support group, I encourage you to look for friends within your church that you might do a study together on this topic with these books.

    I’m hoping you clicked the box to receive a reply to your email, so that you see this reply. Again, so sorry, Jamie. Would love to hear from you again and know how your battle with this is going!

  • Kimberly Wagner

    Hello, Francis ~

    I can relate. For me, battling food idolatry tends to be a series of small victories and many setbacks. It requires continual diligence and dependence on God’s empowering grace! Thank you for sharing so honestly, I appreciate that. Knowing where you are struggling and pinpointing times when you are most vulnerable, is helpful for gaining victory.

    If you’ve never read these books, I encourage you to check out:

    Love to Eat, Hate to Eat” and “Idols of the Heart” by Elyse Fitzpatrick

    Both of these are helpful resources for this battle.

    Francis, I’m pausing now to pray for you, may your love (and mine) deepen for Christ to such an extent that our desire to taste deeply of Him and walk obediently in His ways, will be greater than our love for food.

    Blessings, friend ~

  • Tracy

    Today is Saturday, and I am in the midst of a battle. I awoke today determined to fast for a few days to seek the face of my God and ask him to help me because I am unable to overcome. I thank God for the resurrection power of Jesus Christ that is at work in me enabling me to soar on wings like an eagle changing the way that I think and the way that I respond. I know that I turn to food for comfort and shopping too. I too am celiac, the disease went unchecked during 44 years of my life and only after being born again was the truth revealed to me. Modern medicine misdiagnosed me twice and the years of eating a substance that I was allergic to has caused a domino effect in my body… carbohydrate and dairy intolerance. I have been struggling with this for 7 years. My Lord has spoken to me and promised healing. He commanded me to wake up every morning and thank him for healing my body and so I do, especially in the midst of sickness and physical pain. I’ve come to learn that the healing that he’s promised me is not just physical and that in the midst of this storm my God is doing a work in me and I know that I will overcome… because God is with me, because he will never leave me nor forsake me and he won’t leave me in this place but he will for his glory enable me to soar on wings like an eagle again. Food doesn’t help and neither does shopping because they need for him is still there. I don’t know why I keep going around this mountain but I am so dreadfully weary of it. I desperately need victory in this area of my life.
    Thank you for your posts about your own struggle with idols. May Grace and peace be multiplied to you abundantly in Christ Jesus. With Love from a sister who is walking through after you.

  • Kylee

    Kimberly, thank you very much for being transparent with your experience. The Lord has revealed to me very recently that I too have harbored this sin for a long time, which I had assumed to be a “weakness”. There are some questions I have regarding your experience with fasting to combat this sin, and I wondered if I may contact you. Thank you again.